How Pregnant Athletes Use Jasyoga

We are so thrilled to see mamas using The Yoga for Pregnant Athletes Collection! Before launching the new collection, we put the call out for pregnant athletes to preview the videos. After using the videos for a month, an inspiring group of moms-to-be were kind enough to share their experience so far. 

Homegirls got really honest about personal pregnancy experiences including what's been surprising and challenging, plus shared how the videos are supporting them in their pregnancies and lives — yoga for real at its finest.

Read on! Whether you're a pregnant athlete or not, this is a truly open, fully honest conversation about listening to your body and responding accordingly... 

MEET THE ATHLETES

Emily Brain (1st baby, 30 weeks)
Melissa Donais (1st, 22 weeks)
Autumn Pearson (1st, 31 weeks)
Emily Lenz (2nd, 28 weeks)
Jen Slater (1st, 35 weeks)
Rachel Bachman Perkins (1st, 16 weeks)
Rebekah Leoni (1st, 28 weeks)
Sarah Mac Robinson (2nd, 33 weeks)

WHAT’S YOUR SPORT?

Emily Brain
Running.

Melissa Donais
Running; I prefer the 5k.

 Autumn at CrossFit

Autumn at CrossFit

Autumn Pearson
Running and CrossFit.

Emily Lenz
Running.

 Jen climbing with her baby bump

Jen climbing with her baby bump

Jen Slater
Climbing.

Rachel Bachman Perkins
Nordic skiing and trail running. 

Rebekah Leoni
Running.

Sarah Mac Robinson
Running.

OVER THE WEEKS, HOW HAS YOUR TRAINING and/OR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR SPORT CHANGED?

Emily B.
For nearly the first half of my pregnancy I was feeling great and had very few limitations on my running. I wasn't doing any speedwork or true racing, but I was running close to my regular weekly mileage and was able to complete three trail half marathons as well as one trail 25K. During this time I made a point of being grateful for each and every run I could do, especially all the miles on trails. I had no idea how long it would last or how long it would be until I would get to do these things again. Running without pressure around performance and treating every run as a gift is something I have appreciated about pregnancy.

At about week 19 I started to have more hip and low back pain related to instability in my SI joints, and had to immediately reduce my running. Since then I've managed to do about 5–15 miles per week (involving a lot of run/walking), depending on the amount of pain I'm having. Because I love being active, I've been supplementing this with a lot of indoor biking on my bike trainer (incorporating a lot of interval training to keep it from getting boring!) as well as hiking, walking, and barre classes. Mentally, I've learned to accept slowing down and I still focus on being grateful for whatever my body can do for me on a given day, on top of all that it is doing for my baby!

 Melissa running for two 

Melissa running for two 

Melissa
During the first trimester, I could pretty much continue my normal exercise routine. I continued my regular runs, track workouts, and weight sessions. Somewhere around week 7 I developed all day nausea, which lasted through week 11. Despite feeling sick all day, I actually felt good during my workouts. Then, around week 13, the bottom fell out. My runs became slower, about a minute per mile slower than usual, and I developed breast pain while running and a heavy feeling in my pelvis. I wasn’t expecting to feel “pregnant” running so early on in the pregnancy, so this was a tough pill to swallow. I feared that I’d have to abandon running in the second trimester, when I had been hoping to run throughout my pregnancy. I felt frustrated that the pregnancy was robbing me of one of my favorite activities. It was very much like dealing with an injury, but at the same time, when I wasn’t running, I was very excited to be pregnant. The mix of emotions I felt, on top of being more hormonal than usual anyway, was difficult. I’ve now reached a place where I do what I can each day. I’ve accepted that some days running feels good and some days it doesn’t. I’ve reached a place where I can be happy to just move my body in a way that feels good, without any expectations on my performance.

Autumn
I don't find running as enjoyable anymore (it's much harder with a bump!) and so I only partake in social runs and parkruns and have stopped running 'training'. I have however managed to keep up with CrossFit 5 times a week as there are so many different modifications I can make to ensure that me and baby are getting a safe workout. I now focus on simply "keeping moving" throughout my pregnancy, rather than exercising or training.

Emily L. 
I've decreased running by quite a bit. Before I got pregnant, I had just run my longest postpartum race (Hot Chocolate 15K on October 29, 2017) and finally been back into running 3 days a week on a pretty consistent basis. Since late November, I've run maybe 1–2 days a week at most and decreased mileage a lot. 5 miles is my longest run this pregnancy and my most recent run was only 1 mile. Physically, I feel okay but I've struggled with incontinence while running which is a total bummer. Pelvic floor PT helped but only so much as this pregnancy has progressed.

Jen
After eventually dropping the hang ups on what I couldn't do, I've been marveling on what I can still do! And am more proud of my body than ever.

Rachel
I feel like I have been on an emotional roller coaster where the highs are freedom from the pressures of training and holding myself to self imposed expectations, and the lows are letting go of feeling fast and competitive and accepting the changes my body is going through. On the whole, I think it has been good for me to let go and realize that all of these emotions are present.

Rebekah
I've been learning to embrace a "new" type of running (slower pace, less miles, more bathroom breaks, and adjusting to the bits of my body that are growing) and I'm listening to my body in completely different ways than I was previously.

 Sarah Mac hits the outdoor studio with baby boy

Sarah Mac hits the outdoor studio with baby boy

Sarah
Running has been nearly nonexistent this pregnancy. I was so sick I could barely leave bed the first entire trimester. I did a few weeks of every other day running in early second trimester, but experienced extreme knee pain making painful to even bend and straighten my knees. I booked PT, consulted a pelvic and diastasis recti expert, and have been concentrating on functional strength and fluidity work to set me up to return to running after birth as well as daily walks. 

WHAT HAS SURPRISED YOU ABOUT PREGNANCY? 

Emily B. 
I always thought that I could muscle my way through anything, but pregnancy absolutely forces you to slow down and accept that you are not in control of your body anymore!

Melissa
The amount of love I’ve felt for this child, since before I even knew I was pregnant for sure, has surprised me. I believed I was pregnant before I got a positive pregnancy test, and I started talking to my baby from those early days. I never thought I would feel those maternal feelings so quickly. I also never expected to feel such discomfort in running so early on in my pregnancy. I understood that the third trimester is challenging due to the overall weight gain and issues with center of gravity, but I felt uncomfortable before I was even showing! I never expected this.

Autumn
I'm actually surprised at how little my day-to-day life has changed, even in the third trimester! Aside from scaling back on a few things and needing a bit more sleep than usual, I've pretty much carried on as normal. Although admittedly I've been VERY lucky with a smooth-sailing pregnancy so far and didn't really suffer any sickness.

 Emily L. does some #yogaforreal

Emily L. does some #yogaforreal

Emily L.
How different one pregnancy can be from a previous one. My first pregnancy was uneventful and relatively easy and so far this one is too... but it still feels so different from the first time. I can't name anything specific... it's just different.

Jen
How incredible a woman's body is and how it adapts to do such a major job.

 Rachel getting ready to meditate

Rachel getting ready to meditate

Rachel
How hard the first trimester is! I am normally a very healthy eater, but from weeks 6–10 all I could eat was bland processed carbs and A LOT of them! I dealt with a lot of queasiness and fatigue and the only way to stay ahead of it was to have a constant stream of pretzels and bread going into my belly. I am also amazed every week to learn the ways in which my baby is developing. It seems like magic sometimes!

Rebekah
The need for constant bathroom breaks very early on!

Sarah
My first pregnancy wasn't a breeze, but this was started so rough I was surprised again by how much I needed to surrender to the reality versus the expectation. 

WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU ENCOUNTERED?

Emily B. 
It has been difficult for me to accept that I can't do everything I could before pregnancy, I really miss running as much as I want, spending hours out on the trails, and training hard. I try to remind myself that it is just temporary.

Melissa
One of the biggest challenges I’ve encountered is Raynaud’s of Pregnancy that causes severe nipple and breast pain when running in the cool air. My obstetrician explained that this happens in some women due to the hormonal changes in pregnancy. I had never read about this in any of the blogs of pregnant athletes I was following so in addition to it being a physical discomfort, emotionally it was also tough. I scoured the internet for other female athletes who might have blogged about this, but I couldn’t find anything. I felt very alone. I couldn’t believe that breast and nipple pain, of all things, was curtailing the activities I enjoy. I also felt embarrassed talking about it with others or posting about my struggles on social media, since it seems more personal than traditional pregnancy discomforts, like sciatica. But I want to share my experience so others don’t feel so alone.

Autumn
It was a little hard at first coming to terms with the fact that my body wasn't really my own anymore. That awkward stage where I was too big for my ordinary clothes but too small for maternity wear wasn't fun, but I soon accepted that my body was doing everything that it needed to do for baby and it really is an amazing journey. Finding myself crying my eyes out at television adverts was also unexpected (but my husband finds it hilarious).

Emily L. 
Physically — Not being able to continue running at the level I was (though some of that is related to the mental/emotion discomfort of the incontinence more than the physical aspect of running, really), minor aches and pains. 
Mentally — Considering all the aspects of adding another member to our family... childcare costs, transitions for my daughter, etc. 
Emotionally — Wondering how my daughter will adjust to her baby brother and how all of our relationships will change.

 Jen on belay duty

Jen on belay duty

Jen
With a growing bump, I've had to learn to move in new ways on the wall which has actually improved my climbing rather than hinder it. I've been lucky so far to not have any sickness or pelvis pain, so I'm just riding the wave of hormones that tell me everything is a little bit amazing!

Rachel
I recovered from anorexia about five years ago; I had been the classic collegiate xc runner case where I took "leaner is faster" way past the point where that could be true. I thought I had learned how to combat and de-legitimize these types of thoughts, but I really struggled with depression and poor self-image in early pregnancy. I was bloated all the time and generally just feeling fat and puffy. I had it in my head that I should only gain 1–4 pounds in the first trimester like the charts say and had a very hard time accepting that my body might have a different plan for me. I still find myself struggling to feel confident in my expanding body, but luckily with my partner's support and through self care (like these yoga videos!) I have been continually improving. 

 Rebekah using The Yoga for Pregnant Athletes Collection

Rebekah using The Yoga for Pregnant Athletes Collection

Rebekah
Learning to love my body as it grows and changes.

Sarah
Continuing my education in surrender has been challenging. Learning to trust and listen to my body. And physically just being so sick and uncomfortable week after week. 

WHAT LESSONS ARE YOU LEARNING FROM THIS PREGNANCY? 

Emily B. 
During the first half of my pregnancy I developed an even deeper appreciation of running, especially trail running, because I felt like each run might be my last (or my last good one) for a while.  Without any performance pressure, I was able to realize what it is I truly love about running, which is being outside in nature and feeling free. 

Melissa
I’m learning to give up control and go with the flow. As an athlete, I felt so in tune with my body prior to pregnancy; I knew how my body would react to various stimuli. I knew exactly what to do when I felt tightness or discomfort. Pregnancy flipped this script. I suddenly didn’t know how my body would react to things, I didn’t know what would make things feel better or what would make things feel worse. I had to learn to have an open mind and accept things as they come. Pregnancy is a wild ride with many ups and downs, and I’ve had to learn to sit back and enjoy every twist and turn, rather than try to operate the ride itself!

Autumn
I'm learning to take each day as it comes and to just be a little kinder to myself during pregnancy. Some days I'll feel amazing, jump out of bed at 5am to do a gym session, work all day and eat healthy meals. Other days I'll barely walk a few thousand steps, sit in my pjs in front of the tv and order in pizza. The body wants what it wants.

Emily L. 
I'm learning to just let things be how they are, to go with the flow...

Jen
I've finally learned the true value of listening to your body and that rest is still training.

Rachel
I am not there yet, but I am learning how to be more forgiving of myself and how to be grateful for what I CAN do instead of dwelling on what I can't. I have always thought that my husband and I are good at communicating, but I am also learning how our own emotional state can affect our partner and how important it is to proactively communicate and not suppress things that I "think I can handle on my own". 

Rebekah
I am learning to be gentle on myself and extend grace wherever and whenever needed.

Sarah
Surrender, trust, flexiblity.

WHAT BODY DISCOMFORTS HAVE YOU BEEN DEALING WITH?

Emily B. 
My primary discomfort has been hip and low back pain related to my unstable SI joints. It can be pretty debilitating if I overdo it with running, so I've had to be increasingly careful. I want to run as much as I can, but I also want to be able to do other things like hiking or simply walking around without pain, and so I've really had to cut back on my running. 

Melissa
I've been dealing with Raynaud's of Pregnancy, which causes severe pain in my nipples and breasts in cool temperatures. This can happen in even 60 degrees, so living in New England, I've really struggled with this. I've had to move most of my workouts indoors, and wear a lot more clothes than I normally would when I exercise. 

 Autumn hits the new Make Space for Baby (and you!) video

Autumn hits the new Make Space for Baby (and you!) video

Autumn
At around 25 weeks I started suffering from a bit of hip pain but this has now completely disappeared, thanks to regular pregnancy yoga sessions and as a result of making a conscious effort not to either sit or stand for too long without a break.

Emily L. 
I've been feeling pretty great besides the incontinence while running. Though lately I've been getting some mid back pain which these videos have helped with tremendously!

Jen
Tiredness and breathlessness. 

Rachel
Constipation and bloating... 

Rebekah
Achy low back and occasional tailbone soreness. 

Sarah
Chronic sinus infections (random!). Joint and back pain. 

HOW HAVE YOU BEEN USING THE YOGA FOR PREGNANT ATHLETES COLLECTION?

Emily B. 
This collection has been a great tool for me for recovery and tension relief.  It also helps me to remember that my priority right now is my baby, allowing me to slow down and refocus on him. 

Melissa
The collection has been such a treat to use this pregnancy. When workouts were sometimes frustrating due to the various discomforts I was experiencing, each video in the prenatal collection allowed me to find balance, with both my body and my mind. I ended each video feeling better than I started.

Autumn
I've been using the collection every other day at home before bed.

Emily L. 
I've been using the prenatal collection to finally get back into doing yoga. I used to live in a building with free yoga classes but moved last summer and haven't found a new place. The prenatal collection has helped me remember how much I enjoy doing yoga. It has also helped me to connect with this baby one-on-one.

Jen
I've been adding yoga to my week when I need a bit of a lift or just time to calm down and breathe.

Rachel
I have been using the collection to be proactive about core strength and stability and to help me combat the mental challenges of pregnancy. I don't have a real bump yet, but I love feeling as though I am learning how to treat my body properly when I do and that I am simultaneously bonding with my baby.

Rebekah
When I'm feeling particularly tight, tense, or need to just slow down, and practice mindfulness.

Sarah
This collection has become my main work in the last trimester. I use the videos almost daily. I know from the last pregnancy, things will come back and the work to do during pregnancy should be strategic. There's no point to continue running or pushing if your body is out of line, it's better to build a strong foundation with what you can. 

WHEN DO YOU INCORPORATE IT INTO YOUR SCHEDULE?

Emily B. 
I have the most time for it on the weekends, when I like to do at least 1 session per day. If I have time during the week I will do my best to fit in a video, or at least some of the poses or stretches that I've liked.

 Melissa Hits Reset

Melissa Hits Reset

Melissa
I generally did a video every 2–3 days. On days I wanted to relax, I found Make Space for Baby, Prenatal Meditation for Trust and Surrender, and Prenatal Work IN to be super relaxing and soothing. On days I wanted to do a little more work, usually in between weight sessions, I enjoyed Prenatal Strength and Squat Conditioning.

Autumn
After my evening meal and before bedtime. I find the videos so relaxing and doing some yoga in the evening definitely helps me to sleep better.

Emily L. 
While my 17-month-old naps or after she's asleep at night. 

Jen
When I feel the need to move but climbing feels a little too intense.

Rachel
I incorporate the prenatal collection after workouts and on my days off. I love the Work In and Make Space for Baby routines on days when I am feeling very tired but still want to move my body. The strength video is wonderful after a run and I love knowing that I am being proactive about my core strength and stability. 

Rebekah
After a run or in place of run.

Sarah
After I put my 3 year old to bed. 

FAVORITE VIDEO? 

Emily B. 
My favorite video is Make Space for Baby because the poses seem to really target where I'm having tension and discomfort. I particularly like all the side body stretches, these have always been helpful for me, but especially so during my pregnancy.

Melissa
I loved Make Space for Baby! I felt like it stretched and loosened areas (like in my upper back and torso) that I don't typically stretch, but it felt oh so good with the body changes I've had due to pregnancy. 

Autumn
Make space for baby. Now I'm in my third trimester things are starting to get a little uncomfortable. That particular video really does seem to create more space in my torso and I always feel so much more comfortable afterwards.

 Emily L. on the mat with both babies 

Emily L. on the mat with both babies 

Emily L. 
Fluidity for Pregnancy because it really just helped open up everything and made me feel great!

Jen
So hard to choose! Every video had an element I loved and they all compliment each other.

Rachel
The meditation video is my favorite. As I mentioned above, the emotional journey I've been on the last few months has been incredibly challenging for me. It is so powerful for me to put myself in the headspace of letting go of what I can't do and accepting what I can do on a given day. It allows me to take pride in rest days instead of feeling pressure to push through a workout when my body is exhausted, and sitting while holding my baby and my heart has helped me love my growing belly instead of feeling negative about my appearance. I also love that it is quick and I can do it before bed, after work, or anytime I need to get myself into a better headspace.

Rebekah
Hard choice! They are all so useful for different reasons. Fluidity for tension release and Make Space for Baby for helping my body feel more "open.”

Sarah
Prenatal Strength and Squat Conditioning. Squats are so good for your pelvic floor and low squats are so challenging for me. It's an imbalance that's beneficial to focus on right now. And Fluidity is a game changer for my achy body.  

FAVORITE POSE?

Emily B. 
I really appreciated Erin's guidance on squatting in Prenatal Squat Conditioning. I have worked on doing squats throughout my pregnancy, but the form that she recommends feels especially good and strengthening to me and so I have adopted it when I do squats on my own. 

Melissa
I love being seated and windmilling my arms from side to side, stretching my sides, shoulders and upper back. Those movements, done in Make Space for Baby, feels so good. 

Autumn
Downward facing dog. That seems to create much more space in my torso and I've read that it's a fantastic pose to help baby get in to optimal position. I'm not very good at it (tight hamstrings!) and I can't hold it for very long but I've definitely improved from where I started.

Emily L. 
Lifting opposite arm and leg while on all fours — this used to be one of my favorites in my "regular" yoga class and it still is... it just feels good to balance in that way.

Jen
The stretches felt amazing, especially after a day at work.

Rachel
My favorite pose is very simple (from the meditation video). I love sitting on a pillow with my left hand on my baby and right hand on my heart. Because I don't really have a bump yet and this is my first pregnancy, I sometimes feel like my baby is not real. This time of relaxing, focusing on my breath, and connecting myself with my baby has really helped me create a bond and also love the feeling of my growing belly. 

Rebekah
Cat/Cow has helped relieve my sore back and any of the long side stretches/chest openers have helped open up my ribs and pull them away from baby for a bit, as sometimes I feel myself hunching over.

 Mac calf pumping

Mac calf pumping

Sarah
Hip Rocking.

HOW HAS THE SERIES HELPED YOU DURING PREGNANCY?

Emily B. 
The series has helped me to slow down, focus on my baby, and relieve pregnancy-specific tension that wasn't necessarily targeted through other Jasyoga videos I'd been doing. 

Melissa
This series has helped me find balance, physically and mentally, and it has helped me approach the many changes that occur in pregnancy with an open mind and heart, accepting all that is to come. 

Autumn
It's been so lovely to create that little bit of time for me and baby to relax and focus on us.  It's also helped with general aches, pains and tightness and I find myself adopting some of the poses even when I go to put the kettle on!

Emily L. 
It has helped me to spend time a little time on just me and this new baby. I feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally after each video. Thank you!

Jen
I've always struggled to focus on breath, this has really helped me to slow down and use it productively.

Rachel
I have learned so much about moving in ways that are safe while carrying a baby. I love the mobility that the squat conditioning video helps to create, the way the creating space video helps undo the kinks from running and strength training, and the peace that I find through taking 20 minutes for quiet and calm self care practices. 

Rebekah
They have helped me find space in areas that are feeling crowded and they have offered support to areas of my body that I need to make sure I give special attention to during pregnancy (i.e. pelvic floor) for labor, delivery, and recovery. 

Sarah
Cuts the analysis down for me, I know I can choose a video a day and being doing something truly beneficial for pregnancy and birth that will also help me return to running after baby arrives. I only wish I'd had these from day one, especially the Mediation to deal with the severe anxiety of the first trimester. 


Thanks to all the mamas for sharing! And remember: You are never alone, and you are doing great. Check out the videos and share how you're using them in your pregnancy and beyond with #jasyogamama!